Given the number of players who have played for both teams, and the clubs’s mutual ambition to survive in the top flight, a draw was a fitting and satisfactory result though achieved in a strange way.
All of the goals conceded came after after crass errors. Two by forwards and one by the usually faultless Lewis Dunk. The home side started the more impressively, their high tempo game clearly jolting Fulham out of their normal fluid passing game. I was disappointed that once again there was no Ryan Sessegnon in the starting eleven. There was Alfie Mawson and finally we have a central defender of authority. Thanks to him, we braved the initial onslaught but Brighton were awarded a penalty after forward Luciano Vietto fouled Glenn Murray.
Murray, 35, is a wily old pro and a defender would have been more prudent as Murray twisted in the box. Fulham claimed he was offside just before but in the event Marcus Bettinelli dived to the right to save Pascal Gross’s penalty.
Just before half time André Schurrle scored for Fulham after a clever dink pass from Seri.
After Lewis Dunk erred in presenting Alex Mitrovic with the ball, the Serb bomber scored his fourth of the season after his initial shot was parried to his feet.
Ivan next to me observed that it was that sort of day for Brighton, the ball might have gone anywhere but finished at his feet.
Surely Fulham were home and hosed but two more errors ensured otherwise. Le Marchand presented the ball to Anthony Knockaert who worked it across for Glenn Murray to score.
Then came the oddest mistake of all. Mitrovic in his own box jumped for the ball. There was no one around him, but his arm was positioned well above his head and the ball struck it . Glenn Murray made no mistake with the resultant penalty.
Ivan showed me an interview with Chris Hughton in the local paper in which he referred to the advantages of selection from a small tight squad. I think he’s right. With 12 new players coach Slavisia Jokatovic is changing the team every week.
Out went Joe Bryan but Le Marchand in his place made a cardinal error and never got forward to the same effect. Vietto plays instead of Sessegnon but I have yet to see the former have a shot at goal which Sess managed within minutes of getting on the pitch; Anguissa did not seem to understand where he was playing and when to come forward. It will all take time to gel. We also miss Tim Ream’s reading of the game though the a left-sided central defender he plays in Mawson’s position.
It was a game played in the sunshine in a competitive but not vicious spirit. The programme reminded us of the impressive list of players that have worn both colours: Simon Morgan, Darren Freeman, , Bobby Zamora, Liam Rosenior and Steve Sidwell. Last season Ollie Norwood came on loan and was a more than useful squad player. This season our old keeper David Button has gone the other way.
Alan Mullery who made his debut for Fulham never managed us, a source of rancour to him, as he was promised the job by Alec Stock and he achieved 2 promotions as manager of the Seagulls. Micky Adams achieved promotions at both clubs.
Although a Fulham supporter as he passed our group leaving the ground called it “daylight robbery’ it was not. Fulham would have taken a draw prior to the match given the Seagulls’ impressive home record, Brighton were pleased to get on equal terms, two down with twenty minutes to go. This was the first ever meeting between the two clubs in the Premier but I have a good feeling we will be playing each other next season in that league too.